Bestselling novelist Josephine Cox has passed away at the age of 82, her publisher HarperCollins has announced.
Cox, who wrote more than 60 books during her career, died “peacefully” on 17th July, the company said.
The prolific author's first book, Her Father’s Sins, was published in 1988 by Headline. However, she later moved to HarperCollins, which released The Beachcomber in 2003, and remained with the publisher from then on.
At HarperCollins she was a flagship brand author, dubbed “the nation's favourite storyteller”. Her most recent book, Two Sisters, was published in February this year, and was a Top Ten Sunday Times bestseller.
In the Nielsen BookScan era (since 1998) she sold 6.13 million books for £31.25m through the UK TCM. Her biggest seller was 2005's The Journey, which sold 280,958 copies in paperback.
Her long-term agent Luigi Bonomi, m.d. of LBA Books, told The Bookseller: "Jo Cox was a truly remarkable author. She was one of the very few really successful British authors who came from a working-class background and never forgot her roots. That was where the strength of her writing came from. Kind, funny and passionate about storytelling with an anarchic sense of humour, it was a great privilege to represent her for so many years."
Kimberley Young, executive publisher at HarperCollins Fiction said: "Josephine has left a legacy, not only through her stories that touched the hearts of millions, but as a woman who led the way for others by forging a path from humble beginnings to the top of the bestseller lists. Josephine was an utter force of nature who inspired all around her. Jo received sacks full of mail from those who felt touched by her words, and wrote back to each and every one, creating an army of readers who were as loyal to her and she was to them.
“She will be missed by all at HarperCollins, this was her publishing home for two decades, and we are so sad to lose a very loved member of our family. Josephine truly earned her place as the nation’s favourite and that is how we’ll always remember her.”
Born in a cotton mill house in Blackburn, Cox was one of 10 children. At the age of 16, she met and married her husband Ken, with whom she had two sons, Wayne and Spencer. When her children started school, she studied at college, going on to gain a place at Cambridge University which she was unable to accept as it would have meant living away from home. She subsequently went on to a career in teaching and won the "Superwoman of Great Britain Award" in the same year that her first book was published.
Alongside writing books, she was also a champion of the library sector, once giving Gordon Brown a dressing down about their plight. She was also regularly one of the top three most borrowed authors from public libraries in the UK.
Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins c.e.o. said: "Publishing is built on authors such as Josephine Cox, writers who know instinctively what their readers want and work diligently, and with the utmost dedication, to deliver it. This is what Josephine Cox did for many decades, becoming one of our most beloved writers. She was a joy to spend time with and will be missed by not just her countless readers, but by all of us who had the privilege of working with her."